Hindsight

We’re about to look over our shoulders and attempt to frame a year which seemed like a decade. The overabundance of information has dulled its own edges. We’re left scratching our heads wondering where the truth lies. Truth lies. Hmmm.

            I really want to write with the goal of resolution. You know, tie up 2020 with a nice bow and archive it in the attic. When we hit a deer, square on, in the early hours of this disheveled year, I should have known… I shy away from giving credit to omens or karma, but we all here revert sometimes to how our year began with a synchronicity of headlights, eyes, and a doe flying over our car like a reindeer.

            A yearly update used to roll off my fingers. Well, almost yearly anyway. One thing I’ve come to grips with is the consistency of my inconsistence. This year, being one in millions, and millions, and millions, I think I’ll try to hit some bullet points–if there are any bullets left, that is.

            I don’t need to write about masks, except to say when I find them in parking lots or by the side of the road, we’ve all been wearing them out (I mean that in the broadest sense imaginable.). Social distance? May I say, we’re still going the distance? Throw in politics, protests, lockdowns, economic duress, violence, and the static electricity of media, and voila! A goulash full of goo.

            Stop! Geez Jer, you’re always holding a half empty glass of prune juice. I’m actually considering a prune juice regimen. Do they make prude juice too? Wait. What?

            Anyhow, we’ve attempted to put the fun back in our dysfunction around here, with much success. I began with laughing at myself, which is where all humor is better off birthed. Bent souls all are we with creased personalities, depending on which fold comes into view, we see to it forgiveness or gratitude is applied.  

Our family is like a stew, thick and rich with history. When everyone brings it home for the holidays, it’s like adding water. A broth gives the dysfunction freedom to float around in the soup of us. We had such a wonderful Christmas knowing this is our family, birthed, adopted, and simmered together to warm us all. What a God given grace and mercy.

            As we headed toward winter, hospice showed up. 2020 was finding it hard to breathe, think, and hang on. Let’s say there is no fun in funeral. One friend’s grandmother quietly passed away. Then my sister Ellen lost her fight with dementia. Then another friend lost his son through brain cancer.

Death is not proud, and this year, humility was summoned time and again. Our faith was needed, and the Object of it was found faithful. God holds our grief and questions. Tensions get our attention if we make space to ponder and pray over them. I’ll have to admit making space isn’t always my first choice. Who wants to feel pain and loss? Yet, whatcha gonna do, stuff or ignore it through a plethora of escape modules? Yeah, sometimes.

Then there’s the two of us. Barbara and me, navigating this year closer than ever. We always discuss about being on the same page and what that looks like. We admit our differences–more as time passes. Barbara, boots on the ground, verbal processor, queen of diplomacy, and observer of the wide array of the world’s offerings. Me? Well, I continue to internally ponder, ten feet off the ground, and twenty paces away. My non-verbal processor looks for ways to button up thoughts, and find that the button fell off in the wash. Kinda like 2020.

I gotta say though, we are more we than we ever were. (Can I buy a vowel?)  I’m super thankful for all the grace God has dumped on us. Mercy too. Oh, how we need both! Our goal is to finish well, and grow until our time is up. I love her deeply.

A few more words to wrap up, button up, and then buckle up, because you never know when a deer might make a run for it.

Can I say it now?

“Hindsight is 2020.”

Cliché perfecto.

Listen, as we drive further into 2021, if we make space for it, our rearview mirror will eventually frame the most poignant events.

I pray the good, the true, and the beautiful will manifest in all our lives. I hope the two greatest commandments will be housed in our hearts this year… Love God, and love our neighbor.

Happy New Year!

My verse of the year: “Come unto me…” Jesus  Matthew 11:28

Green, Grass, Outdoor, Nature, Trees

Sunday Psalm 11/29/2020

I watched the frost efface

as the sun rolled out

like a resurrection.

There is more shine through

the disrobed maples.

Even the burning bush

flamed out, its fires

gathered and sucked

from the curb.

There is a settling into

winter like a turning dog

on his bed.

We sense the withdrawal,

of warmth, of life,

of precious things.

We’re thankful to have been,

we pray to be,

to lean into winter

so spring will eventually

catch our fall.

The Hippie of the Long Gray Hair

On my way into the store for dog food and sour cream I stopped and took in the last call of the sun. You know, when the magnifying glass of the horizon burnishes the great circle before it drops below the surface. A man was trying to capture the image with his phone a few spaces over. Futile. I thought of Elton John.

“Don’t let the sun go down on me.”

Isn’t it funny how the greatest metaphors are so easily dismissed, or just missed? Lately, when the sun is a bit weary and heads under the covers, I think of my sister Ellen (The oldest hippie I know.). She sundowns every evening. Jack, her husband, texts me updates a few times a day. More like downdates after supper. Sundowning is a term attached to people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sundowning turns my sister from forgetful half sentences (Of which no two fragmental sentences cohere.) to an obstinate curmudgeon. Curmudgeoness?

When dementia began defacing Ellen’s brain at a more rapid pace earlier this year, it was time to get more help.

“Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody!”

Her kids, my siblings, gave Jack some respite. Needless to say it’s a lotta work to manage a person who can no longer manage. Applause and thanks go out to all!

So, I found myself in the same living room that held my mother sitting in a lazy boy wondering who I was. It’s been almost ten years ago. The other day I stopped by to visit Ellen and sat across from her on the same couch. She says I’m still her boy. I’ll put that in my pocket!

Don’t cry Mare, this was your idea!

The crazy thing about this dementia is the teeter-totter aspect of it. Like my other sister (Mare) said it’s like Ellen doesn’t just become like a little child. In fact, as I’ve observed, a stutter step of doing life took over. Stubborn and snarky. Frustrated and fun. Up, then down. Jack texts me often…”She’s back!” As we come and go, she doesn’t know if she’s coming or going.

“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.”

Ellen, the hippie of the long gray hair. Those who love her pluck the petals of she loves me, she loves me not. Mostly, Jack wonders what petal is it today, this hour, this moment?

“Love, love me do. You know I love you.”

For now, we who know Ellen hold on to her memory for her. I’ll remember for her the time I jumped on her like a flying squirrel after a long absence. I was just a kid, but the memory is as fresh as dew. Like I said somewhere else, round and round her memory goes, but this time it spins out of control. The centrifugal force peels her fingers off the stories which once were milestones of her identity. We do what we can but still feel…

“helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still calling her Ellen, we all are, for good reason. Her spirit, soul, and body are still spouting her humanity. It’s her mind that has wandered off because her brain keeps misfiring. C.S. Lewis once stated “We don’t have a soul. We are a soul. We happen to have a body.” I wonder if God sent most of her mind on ahead to scope out heaven and left little half thoughts with us to try to decipher. Easy there Jer.

“It’s a long and winding road to your heart.”

The other day I walked in, grabbed the reaching tool thingy, you know, the one with the trigger you pull, and on the other end it clasps things you can’t get at. Anyway, Ellen was wearing her winter hat with the ball on top. She kinda looked like a cone-head. I grabbed the ball with the tool and lifted up the hat to check under the hood as it were. She smiled. I smiled back. Such a simple thing. Showing teeth. Curling the mouth. Revealing dimples. I’m sure Jack would tell you it’s the little things that hot-wire hope in the midst of hopelessness. Small gifts.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, Bra.”

I don’t know what a bra has to do with it, but life is going on, even in the small significant world of Ellen and Jack and attendants. I believe a Big God sees what’s going on there. Ever present, maybe a bit more present when worship music fills their little living room. God isn’t watching from a distance.

Back to the sundown metaphor and how it reminds me of Ellen. How about this? The sun can’t set without getting up there first. Up. Down. Just like the hippie of the long gray hair. Life.

Sure,

“Yesterday, all my troubles seem so far away.”

But,

“Here comes the sun, do and do do.”

This has become a song that reminds me of Jack and Ellen

Pedal Still

We can only keep coasting downhill.

What about the other side?

What about the vistas,

ridges, mountains, big and small?

 

Where do the shadows yawn?

What becomes of perspective?

Why settle in the valley

no matter how it cradles us?

 

Back on our bikes,

those pedestals of freedom.

There are times to coast,

and times to climb.

 

For Jasper Hoogendam and Glynn Young

find Jasper at https://livingingodspocket.wordpress.com/

and Glynn at http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com/

Monday Morning

Monday Morning

 

Coffee and creamed,

truth and grace,

or so it seemed.

 

That mixture of

strong and soft,

and how oft

 

I wanted to slip

into a week,

geeked and tweaked.

 

But it’s Monday.

A do over day,

to pray, play, slay.

 

Another new mercy say.

although nothing new,

but everything.

 

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,

            the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.

I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—

            the feeling of hitting the bottom.

But there’s one other thing I remember,

            And remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,

            his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.

They’re created new every morning. (Even Monday morning)

            How great your faithfulness!

I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).

            He’s all I’ve got left.

                        Lamentations 3

If Tears Were Race Horses

If I release tears like race horses

which one will fall into the lead?

 

The gate opens and they’re off!

Anger gets out at the jump,

with Dissappointment a nose back.

Loneliness makes a run for third,

edged out by Rejection.

Grief settles in between

Laughter and Loss,

While Joy brings up the rear.

The track of the tears

comes alive as dirt and dust

rise in and behind the pack.

They are neck in neck,

cheek to cheek

as the backstretch looms.

It’s any horse’s race but

Joy is on the move,

but not on the outside.

Joy is moving through

the thick of it, jockeying,

bumping bellies,

smelling sweat,

listening as the hoofs

displace earth while

muzzles move air.

The movement is hidden

within at first, but down

the wire Joy overcomes

by two lengths.

 

Longing For an Ambush

In the corner looking out

beyond the sharp edge of light

there is a darkness waiting to

dilate my senses and sensibilities.

 

For it was out of the utter black

a word of brightness spoke.

Help me not be afraid

of the basement steps.

 

The creaking undertones

splaying the anticipation of ambush.

The longing for a surprise attack

that cuts to the spiritual core

 

of what was behind and before,

with room enough for the I Am.

A fear and afraid melded

into the corner of where I was.

Twelve Minutes on Hope

Hey, I found that “Hope” chapter, because I found my beat up copy of Mere Christianity while cleaning my disaster of an office.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity on Hope.

Desire, emotions, and feeling things have been suspect of late. I doubt my feelings and pin my desires behind my back as it were, wondering if they will betray me. I put hope in that category too. Hope isn’t an emotion, but it can keep emotions somewhat awake, don’t you think?

This world, in some respects, is a mirage…emotions too, are like steam rising off the pavement after a brief hot summer day. Our culture seems to be mood dependent. Well, if I really soak myself in the cultural abyss, (oh, so dramatic!) it’s more like the Moody Blues.

I guess that’s when faith, HOPE, and love enter, and move us beyond mood dependency.

Times up. Thoughts?

Looking for Hope? Twelve minute writing.

Twelve minute run of the brain. I can’t find my copy of Mere Christianity. I wanted to read the chapter on hope. I have no hope of finding it in the next few minutes.

Often my hope is off somewhere sulking. Sometimes it is playing hide and seek. There are times when it is translucent as if I can see right through it to the hopeless state of things. An Eeyore moment has me saying short whining sentences, or answering a “How are you?” greeting with an answer like an essay question on a High School history exam.

So, now I have five minutes left to write about hope.

What I do know is everyone lives a thicker life with hope in the wings. Hope cheers us on to the next thing. Hope leads. Hope gently takes our hand. Hope see the possibilities.

I’m not a natural “hoper.” So when things get rough, or complicated, or senseless, I first sit in the mud, as it were, pointing at all the fractures.

My time is up. It’s 9:00 a.m. I found hope, it was in my breast pocket.

How is your relationship with hope these days?

Bullet Points

  • Bullet Points
  • Entry wounds
  • Exit wounds
  • Mooring snapped
  • Mourning wrapped
  • Blood flows
  • Anger grows
  • Boughs break
  • Hearts ache
  • Coherence fades
  • Frustration jades
  • Chambers dressed
  • Triggers pressed
  • Round after round
  • Sound after sound
  • Good or bad
  • Bad or good
  • Misunderstood
  • Misunderstood
  • On our knees
  • Begging please
  • Don’t shoot
  • Don’t shoot
  • Hands behind backs
  • Hands in our laps
  • See us care
  • Hear our prayer
  • In God we trust
  • We must we must
  • Or bullet points
  • Or bullet points…